Employee dating is common, to a large degree, because co-workers are the people that employees see most often. They may spend eight to 10 hours together every day. That’s far more than many see their friends or their own family members — much less single people that they may consider dating. These professional relationships sometimes turn friendly and then turn romantic.
As an employer, though, should you ban these relationships? Should you put an end to this common practice at your place of business?
This is what some employers choose to do. The biggest reason that they do it is that they’re worried that a failed relationship will bring about sexual harassment allegations. This is a tricky subject and they decide the easiest way to avoid it is to tell employees they can’t get involved romantically.
In other cases, employers ask employees to alert human resources if they are in a relationship and sign an agreement saying that it is consensual. This may help, as it would prevent someone from later claiming that they felt forced into the relationship or that they felt too much pressure to pursue it, even though they didn’t want to.
Even that’s not perfect, though. What if they simply say they also felt pressure to sign the agreement? If they’re already claiming that a co-worker or even a superior pressured them into a relationship, that’s not much of a stretch.
What all employers and employees need to realize is that as common office relationships have become, there are potential pitfalls. How things play out can impact careers drastically. Everyone must be well aware of their legal rights.